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Digital Recording

Rethinking Borderline Personality Disorder: A Traumatic Attachment Disorder

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Janina Fisher, PhD
2 Hours 43 Minutes
Audio and Video
Mar 13, 2022
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Digital Recording
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Regardless of how it might seem, clients aren’t really at war with their therapists; they’re caught up in a trauma-related internal battle, asking themselves questions about whether to trust or not trust, live or die, and love or hate. A trauma perspective opens up new ways of working with clients with BPD, helping us understand their challenging behaviours as consequences of being traumatized and fragmented. It transforms the therapeutic relationship and the treatment. In this recording, you’ll explore the value of reinterpreting borderline personality as an attachment disorder and learn how to help clients with BPD focus on their internal battles, positioning yourself as an ally. You’ll explore how to:

  • To strengthen alliances with clients with BPD and navigate their fears of closeness and distance
  • Understand how fragmentation or “splitting” creates internal conflicts and fuels crisis
  • Help BPD clients resolve internal struggles with easily implemented body-centred and parts-centred interventions



This online program is worth 2.75 hours CPD.



Janina Fisher, PhD's Profile

Janina Fisher, PhD Related seminars and products

Janina Fisher, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and former instructor at The Trauma Center, a research and treatment center founded by Bessel van der Kolk. Known as an expert on the treatment of trauma, Dr. Fisher has also been treating individuals, couples, and families since 1980.

She is the past president of the New England Society for the Treatment of Trauma and Dissociation, an EMDR International Association Credit Provider, Assistant Educational Director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, and a former Instructor, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Fisher lectures and teaches nationally and internationally on topics related to the integration of the neurobiological research and newer trauma treatment paradigms into traditional therapeutic modalities.

She is co-author with Pat Ogden of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy: Interventions for Attachment and Trauma (2015) and author of Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation (2017) and the forthcoming book, Working with the Neurobiological Legacy of Trauma (in press).

Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Dr. Janina Fisher has an employment relationship with the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute. She is a consultant for Khiron House Clinics and the Massachusetts Department of MH Restraint and Seclusion Initiative. Dr. Fisher receives royalties as a published author. She receives a speaking honorarium, recording royalties and book royalties from Psychotherapy Networker and PESI, Inc. Dr. Fisher has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Dr. Janina Fisher is on the advisory board for the Trauma Research Foundation. She is a patron of the Bowlby Center.


  1. Determine the common effects of traumatic attachment.
  2. Distinguish Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms characteristic of disorganize or unresolved attachment.
  3. Investigate the effects of disorganized attachment in adult interpersonal relationships.
  4. Demonstrate use of right brain-to-right brain techniques to help BPD clients tolerate and benefit from psychotherapy.
  5. Apply three body-centred, mindfulness-based interventions to increase affect tolerance and decrease impulsive behaviour.


  • The effects of trauma on attachment formation in children
    • When parents are ‘frightened and frightening’
    • Trauma-related internal conflicts between closeness and distance
    • Disorganized attachment status in adulthood
  • Understanding BPD as a trauma-related disorder
    • Differentiating personality disorder symptoms from trauma responses
    • Using psychoeducation to make sense of the symptoms
  • Re-interpreting BPD as ‘Traumatic Attachment Disorder:  how does it change the treatment?
    • Transforming the focus from behaviour change to trauma resolution
    • Understanding splitting as dissociative, not manipulative
    • Transference and countertransference implications
  • Stabilization of unsafe behaviour
    • “Waking up” the prefrontal cortex
    • Increasing client ability to be mindful rather than reactive
    • Re-interpreting impulsive behaviour as fight/flight responses
    • Helping clients dis-identify from suicidal beliefs and impulses
  • Addressing issues of clinging, separation anxiety and anger
    • Working from a trauma-based parts perspective
    • Facilitating internal attachment relationships
  • A “right brain to right brain” approach to healing attachment wounding
    • Facilitating internal compassion
    • Helping clients ‘repair’ the past rather than remember it
    • Creating internal secure attachment

Target Audience

  • Psychologists
  • Physicians
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Art Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Other Behavioral Health Professionals



Overall:      4.8

Total Reviews: 179

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